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Picturing US-Trained PhDs' Paths

While the US National Institutes of Health Advisory Committee to the Director's Biomedical Workforce Working Group issued a draft report this month, detailing data it collected as well as its recommendations for the federal agency, Sally Rockey really breaks it down at her NIH Office of Extramural Research blog. "I plan to highlight some of the specific data in future posts, but first, I'd like to discuss the outcome — the conceptual framework that presents a snapshot of the biomedical research workforce, incorporating the latest available data," she says. And she does, in an infographic that follows the career paths of the 9,000 biomedical PhDs who graduated in the US in 2009. Seventy percent of them went on to do postdoctoral research, Rockey notes.

Down the line, "looking at the career paths taken by these US-trained biomedical PhDs, we can see that fewer than half end up in academia, either in research or in teaching, and only 23 percent of the total are in tenured or tenure-track positions," she adds. "Many other people are conducting research, however, with 18 percent in industry and 6 percent in government."

Overall, Rockey says, the non-academic biomedical workforce is huge. "If you're a graduate student or postdoc looking at these numbers, particularly the proportion of people in industry and government settings, it makes sense to learn as much about these career paths as possible," she writes at Rock Talk.

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